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 Gemini, Cinephile, Actressexual. Also loves cats. All material herein is written and copyrighted by him, unless otherwise noted. twitter | facebook | pinterest | tumblr | instagram | letterboxd | deviantart 

 

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Entries in Cinematography (193)

Friday
Jul172015

Teasing "The Revenant"

I ain't afraid to die anymore. I done it already."

We don't yes no maybe so teasers but if we did this would be a YES with the small NO of "can already tell we won't be able to tell all these bearded sweaty fur clad men apart during action sequences and mayb even some closeups" 

Question 
As our Oscar charts have suggested all year we expect this one to go over well but this very gripping teaser makes you wonder: Could Inarittu win Best Director back-to-back? It has only happened once before and that was 74 years ago (John Ford won for Grapes of Wrath and How Green Was My Valley). No one has ever won Best Picture back-to-back... though David O. Selznick would have in 1939 (Gone With the Wind) and 1940 (Rebecca) if they had awarded Best Picture to producers back then as they do now. Four men have won Best Cinematography twice consecutively including Emmanuel Lubezki(Gravity & Birdman) and since he's lensing this one in what looks like continuous shots with only natural light, he could conceivably break the record and be the sole most consecutive Oscar winning DP. 

Wednesday
Jul152015

Hit Me With Your Best Shot: "Sunset Blvd" 

For this week's special edition of Hit Me With Your Best Shot -- temporarily redubbed "Hit Me With Your Second-Best Shot" as I've declared that iconic finale off limits -- we're looking at the finest Movie About the Movies ever made. Or one of them at least. The point is it's entirely unmissable and a candidate for any sane All Time Greatest Movie list. The film never gets old or becomes irrelevant even though those are two of its best and most horrifically stared-down topics.

Billy Wilder's masterpiece (or one of them at least), immeasurably aided by inspired performances from William Holden as the screenwriter to Gloria Swanson's screen siren, is not just an acting and writing triumph. It's also a stunner in all the craft categories, particularly its Oscar-winning art direction and its cinematography by John F Seitz, a seven time nominee. His work is magnificent throughout, providing maximum pleasure to "those wonderful people out there in the dark" with his expressive lighting.

So let's get right to those (second) best shots...

A Visual Index of Sunset Blvd (1950)

(Second) Best Shot. According to these 15 movie-loving participants
Click on any image to be taken to the corresponding article
Images presented in rough order as to when they appear in the movie

My New Plaid Pants - this is not technically an entry but people, let this be a lesson to you. If you've already chosen a shot, write a sentence or two about it. The hard part is choosing after all. If you've chosen, do it. We'll link up! 

100% macabre
- Movie Motorbreath *video entry* 


'Stars are ageless.' This shot disagrees."
-I Want to Believe 

There is one entity who has never betrayed her: her 'celluloid self.'"
-The Entertainment Junkie 

Everyone, including Norma, can't help but look at Norma...
-Sorta That Guy 

This image sums up Sunset Blvd., and even more than that,  the entire psychological universe of noir... 
-Antagony & Ecstasy 

No matter how crazy Norma Desmond may be, I always find her incredibly sympathetic...
-Film Actually 


We might be entering the movie’s world through Joe Gillis’s point of view, but unlike him, we *are* here to see Norma Desmond. 
-Coco Hits NY 

It's easy to imagine she does this ever year, even without a handsome writer..."
-Awards Madness 

Already too attached to Norma and her gifts...
-Dancin Dan on Film 


If Norma Desmond is a fictionalized version of Gloria Swanson, Max Von Mayerling is a quasi-(auto)biographical portrait of Erich von Stroheim...
-Paul Outlaw 

We expect cold humiliating truth but what we get is the film's most genuinely warm moment... 
- The Film Experience 


Norma Desmond would be proud of the leading lady portraying her..."
-54 Disney Reviews 

A true star always finds the light...
-Jija Crazy Movie *first time participant*

A one-man army of servants, for her sake, steps back into his role as director once more..."
-Allison Tooey  

Please do visit each article, share, and comment. The more eyes the merrier when it comes to worshipping great stars. You haven't forgotten what a star looks like.

NEXT WEDNESDAY: 1995's [safe] starring Julianne Moore

Wednesday
Jul152015

Poor Joe. This Spotlight is For Norma Desmond

When I issued the challenge of Hit Me With Your Best Shot: Sunset Blvd (1950), with the caveat that you couldn't use that final close up for Mr DeMille, I knew it would make for a great episode. What a stone cold classic it is, filled with potent images in every scene that are too often taken for granted given the combined impact of its haunting iconic opening and closing. What I had dumbly not remembered was how intoxicatingly full Sunset Blvd feels on every repeat viewing inbetween. You can go into each screening with one topic in mind ("I shall write about this") and come out with a dozen more topics boiling, your original thoughts crowded out of the mind's frame. So I must painfully set aside the self-deprecating script, the gestural bravado, the timelessness of its time capsule, its shame-trigger economics and sexuality. So much of it distracts from the real purpose of HMWYBS which is to zero in on a particular image from a public piece of art that seizes your individual imagination with its beauty or thematic resonance or what not, and discuss. 

So Joe McGillis will have to wait. Which is a shame. He's worth at least 11 essays of his own according to my easily distracted notes. They're messier than Norma's epic handwritten "Salome" opus which visually buries Joe long before she works up enough actual crazy to really bury him. [More...]

Click to read more ...

Wednesday
Jul082015

Best Shot Visual Index: Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon (2000)

I was so certain that I owned Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon that I didn't bother to rent it at all for this week's Hit Me With Your Best Shot episode. Come Tuesday night I discover that my dvd had vanished into the clouds after apparently leaping from its perch near the top of the dvd shelf. Worse still it's not available for rental on iTunes or Amazon but only for purchase and if I'm going to purchase something I still want the physical object. Old school! Which means that I will be late yet again with my own entry as the host which is all but inexcusable but par for the course this week (experiencing meltdowns backstage - this too shall pass?). But an unexpected development, just this week the sequel -- the reason we were doing this, was moved back to 2016 from its expected August bow.

But please do visit these articles elsewhere on Ang Lee's much Oscar nominated, much earning, much ripped off classic. I know I will. The film won 4 Oscars including cinematography for Peter Pau and probably just missed the Best Director win too since Ang Lee took the Globe, DGA and BAFTA that year. Imagine if he'd taken the Oscar that year. He'd have 3 wins by now.

CROUCHING TIGER'S BEST SHOTS
(click on the pics for corresponding articles)
ACCORDING TO THESE 9 BLOGS

 Almost like Cupid’s arrow...?
-I Am Derreck 

When you look at this image, you could easily mistake the film for a traditional Western... 
-Film Actually  

That Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon focuses on the traditionally Chinese conflict between reason (li) and emotion (qing) is unsurprising, the way the movie expresses the conflict through images, however, is anything but. 
- Coco Hits NY

 If I made a list of ‘top 10 overrated movies’ this would definitely make that list...
-54 Disney Reviews

a portrayal of love as the light in the darkness...
-Antagony & Ecstacy 

Lee's romanticism is also utilized simply to make interesting, unexpected choices... 
-The Entertainment Junkie

Honestly, it’s not a surprise that this is the same director as Brokeback Mountain when you come to think of it, since it’s clear that the man knows how to make emotional self-imprisonment believable and dangerous...
-Movie Motorbreath 

It's all about Zhang Ziyi. For someone so small, she has immense screen presence...
-Sorta That Boy 

Where is Michelle Yeoh's international superstardom?
-Paul Outlaw

And finally...

Nathaniel's Placeholder Best Shot
For the record, in closing, this is the single image that my mind races to first when I am reminded of the film. I'm not saying it will be my "best" upon a close rewatch inspection, but I remember the whole scene vividly and fondly and the entire movie felt this way to me the first time I saw it; a magical film transcending the standard laws, balancing delicately and easily in the treetops while breathing rarified instant-classic air.

I'll update this list when more articles come in including my own - you should still join us since the sequel is delayed and we can continue to add articles. Perhaps I'll choose a shot from each half hour as penance? It's been so long since I've seen it and I'm eager to have it memorized again before the possibly ill advised sequel arrives which is no longer next month but early 2016.


NEXT WEDNESDAY: IT'S A MUST MUST MUST MUST PLAY AT HOME EPISODE.
Sunset Blvd (1950). But you can't choose the infamous "close-up" for Mr DeMille at film's end so if that's your shot your choice must be "second best shot". I am starting on this one FRIDAY so that there is no way in hell I'll be late for my own event next Wednesday. If you've always wanted to try "best shot," here's you classic opportunity with a film from Old Hollywood about Even Older Hollywood that nonetheless never gets old. 

Friday
Jun262015

Welcome to the Academy - The Lucky 322

As is their annual tradition now AMPAS has released the list of the names they've offered memberships too. If you're new to the tradition, you'll note in the following list that most of the time a first nomination will results in an invite (but not always) and that generally a few people who weren't nominated but got a lot of buzz the previous season will be invited (hi, David Oyelowo & Gugu Mbatha Raw). Lately the lists have gotten longer and much more surprising too as the Academy attempts to broaden its demographic after years of being dinged for skewing too  'old white and male'

The complete list of 322 potential inductees is below. There's a welcome to the Academy reception in September for those that accept and then the process starts again. The Academy works on a referral basis of sorts so current members can nominated new prospective members and that process (a longer list of names than this - never publicized that I'm aware of) concludes in March each year. Unless they're all "You can't sit with us!" then they end up on this list which comes out in the summer.

So let's look at who was invited.

Multiple Branches
Damien Chazelle (Writer/Director) Whiplash
Malcolm D. Lee (Writer/Director) The Best Man Holiday
Paweł Pawlikowski (Writer/Director) Ida
Abderrahmane Sissako (Writer/Director) Timbuktu
Damian Szifron (Writer/Director) Wild Tales
Andrey Zvyagintsev (Writer/Director) Leviathan
Mathilde Bonnefoy (Documentary/Editing) Citizen Four

Damian Szifron, WILD TALES writer/director

These eight people must decide which of the two branches that invited them they will join. While members can be on more than one branch -- I imagine Warren Beatty, for example, is on a few since he's been nominated in four different categories -- they can't join two in one year. You'll notice that four of the Foreign Language Film nominees are accounted for though weirdly not the director of the Estonian film Tangerines

Actors and Actresses are in the same branch but I've separated them just for fun as befits the Oscar categories and also to point out that they invited way more men than women, more than twice as many! Hey, I thought they were working on the diversity thing! They also invited both men who got crying closeups at the ceremony earlier this year.

315 more people after the jump...

Click to read more ...

Thursday
Jun252015

Hit Me With Your Best Shot: "The Red Shoes"

Before we begin, the beginning...

Is this not one of the cinema's most exquisite title cards? It's presentational, theatric, classic, colorful, and bears the distinct mark of handmade craftsmanship. That's all perfectly emblematic of the film itself, Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger's highly theatrical, deeply colorful look at obsessive artistry, possibly the greatest film of 1948, our Year of the Month (the Smackdown is Sunday)

Before we get to my choice, I'd like to share the others from around the web, since I was running late to my own series like some selfish prima ballerina whose 45 minutes late to rehearsal.

THE RED SHOES
Cinematography by Jack Cardiff
10 BEST SHOT(s)
As chosen by these participating blogs. Click on the photos for corresponding articles.

 Waves crashing on the shore of the stage. It's such a perfectly impressionistic moment...
-Dancin' Dan on Film

The film approaches this theme of obsession in some rather surprising ways...
-The Entertainment Junkie

 

Love and obsession are two sides of the same coin...
-Film Actually

 

If you haven't seen The Red Shoes, rest assured that it's the biggest gap in your film education, and you should make it a short-term priority...
-Antagony & Ecstasy

 

If you think about it, The Red Shoes,is just an incredibly artsy examination of the “Can women truly have it all?” question...
-Pop Culture Crazy

 

(Vicky. Her Relationship. Dancing). This love triangle of sorts dominates the latter half of the film... 
-Sorta That Guy

He holds them up to the camera...daring us to take them.
-Coco Hits NY 

Showcasing the cinematic artifice and especially the psychology. It's super overt, but why not?
-Movie Motorbreath

 

In a way watching her dance reminded me of the movie Ed Wood (I know strange comparison but hear me out).  He is so happy making his terrible movies.  The smile on his face never leaves."
-54 Reviews 

They're all great beauties and I considered some of them. My pick after the jump...

Click to read more ...

Monday
Jun222015

Yes No Maybe So: Sicario

Manuel here to talk about Sicario, the latest Denis Villeneuve film starring Emily Blunt, Benicio del Toro and Josh Brolin. It already earned strong reviews at Cannes but last week’s trailer was our first extended look at this drug cartel film where Blunt plays an FBI agent enlisted to help in the war against drugs in the US/Mexican border.

I wanted to make a full YES/NO/MAYBE SO for this trailer but realized as soon as we got to this shot...

Click to read more ...